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Self-policing college sports, Philly's new gun-free zones, and Pa. arrest rallies the anti-abortion right

Plus, how to apply for a Pa. property tax or rent rebate.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 28, 2022
College money, bonus rebates, gun-free zones, FBI rebuttal, campus crimes, slow info, and Pa.'s next state parks. It's Wednesday. Welcome.
Student athletes in Pennsylvania can now get paid by brands looking to use their name, image, and likeness (NIL) in advertisements and more.

The change was ushered in by a 2021 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opened the door for endorsement deals long prohibited in college sports.

The NCAA and federal government have left it up to lawmakers in each state to craft NIL guidelines for athletic programs — or not. 

In Pennsylvania, the relevant law bars student-athletes from making money on pornography, alcohol, gambling, tobacco or electronic smoking devices, prescription drugs, or other controlled substances.

But the schools are left to regulate the deals themselves, and experts say the conflict around that enforcement role is obvious.

Read Spotlight PA's full explainer: Schools like Penn State University self-police student-athlete endorsement deals.

THE CONTEXT: Christina Diaz, assistant athletics director for development and enrichment at Penn State, said the university does not report students' NIL deals to any outside group, such as the Big Ten Conference or the NCAA, and has not disciplined any students for NIL violations.

Dan Lust, a sports law professor and sports and entertainment attorney, said there is little incentive for schools or states to punish students who break the rules because doing so would discourage recruits or transfers.

The result? A landscape favored by people who want little regulation, Lust added. (The NCAA has asked universities for help investigating potential violations, but has not announced any penalties.)

"If you're someone that wants a fair and level playing field for the conference championships or even the national championship, we are still playing a game," Lust added. "And the rules... are not necessarily being enforced."

"Schools are supposed to be the answer. We keep kids in schools so they don't get involved in the shooting. And what happens when we have shootings outside the schools? The remedy has to be a safe place."

—Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner on the shooting near Roxborough High School on Tuesday that killed a 14-year-old and injured several others
» THE STATE OF PA ELECTIONS: Join us Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A with Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman, who oversees elections in Pennsylvania. Chapman will discuss how her agency secures and runs elections, explain the state's voting policies, and answer all of your pressing questions ahead of Nov. 8. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A quick guide to all of Spotlight PA's 2022 election coverage:

»  Spotlight PA launches 2022 Election Center website
»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  Where Mastriano, Shapiro stand on LGBTQ rights
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot
»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election
»  Tell us what election coverage matters to you
»  How to serve as a poll worker on Nov. 8

En Español:

»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» CNN: Northampton County is a 'place to watch on Election Night'
» EXAMINER: Shapiro campaign raised more than $25M over summer
» NBC: Mastriano said yes to murder charges for abortion ban violations
» WTAE: New Marist poll: Dems Shapiro and Fetterman hold their leads
» YDR: How Shapiro is contrasting himself with Gov. Tom Wolf (paywall)
The view from atop Huntingdon County's 1,000 Steps on the Standing Stone Trail, via Don H. Have a cool image to share? Send us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
REBATE GUIDE: An estimated one-third of Pennsylvanians who are eligible for the state's rent and property tax rebate program fail to apply for it each year. Now, the rebates — which help older and disabled residents offset the rising cost of housing — are larger due to a one-time budget boost. Spotlight PA explains how you can utilize the program, and the temporary bonus approved for this year.

GUN-FREE: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has signed an executive order barring guns at city recreation centers and playgrounds, the latest in ongoing efforts to establish tougher local gun laws there despite state-imposed limits. Any legal challenges would likely be buoyed by the state's robust preemption law. Philadelphia officials say this is different because they're acting as a property owner.

SWAT FORCE: The FBI is refuting an anti-abortion activist's claim that SWAT force was used to arrest him in Bucks County over alleged assaults on a Planned Parenthood volunteer in Philadelphia last year, the Courier Times (paywall) reports. GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano called Mark Houck's arrest "an outrage," while The Inquirer (paywall) reports the case is rallying the anti-abortion right.

RED ZONE: More than half of sexual assaults among college students happen in the weeks between the start of fall semester and Thanksgiving break. It's called The Red Zone, and we're in it now. A PublicSource series explores the phenomenon and includes resources, a first-person essay, and interviews with two survivors of campus sexual assault 20 years apart showing "how little has changed." 

DATA DELAY: An LNP Media Group lawyer says the Wolf administration is "playing games" with the release of up-to-date data on statewide COVID-19 deaths requested by the news outlet. The Department of Health agreed to provide such data — a granular portrait of pandemic impacts — in a related legal settlement. Now it wants a 30-day extension to accomodate a "legal review," per LNP (paywall).

GUN TRACE: The gun found near the scene of Saturday's triple shooting in Kennywood Park was stolen from a vehicle in Ohio one year earlier, TribLIVE reports, citing Allegheny County police. No arrests have been made or suspects named. The three people injured are all expected to recover.

NEW PARKS: Pennsylvania is spending $45 million on three new state parks, the first such additions since 2005. The new parks will be located in Wyoming, Chester, and York Counties, the AP reports.

'JOCK TAX': The fee Pittsburgh has charged to visiting professional athletes has been struck down as an unconstitutional tax by an Allegheny County judge, WPXI reports. Several pro athletes sued to stop the fee.

ROCK STAR: Kurt Steiner of Emporium has dedicated his life to stone skipping and has the world record to prove it. Outside Magazine sat down with the sport's "greatest living legend" at his Pennsylvania cabin.

SING SONG: Happy Birthday to Billy Joel's "Allentown," which turned 40 this month. Lehigh Valley Live looked at the legacy — celebrated and not — of the ballad and the Lehigh Valley's "premiere pop-culture moment."

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Deviation

Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., Becky C., Michelle T., Starr B., Don H., Beth T., Patricia M., Elaine C., Judy M., Doris T., Deb N., Steve D., Steve H., Kimberly D., George S., James B., Craig W., Marty M., Al M., Susan N.-Z., Bill S., Dianne K., Stanley J., David W., Kathy F., Mary Jo J., and Daniel M.
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